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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled Review2
by Brad Shoemaker on
This remade version of the Turtles' second arcade beat-'em-up is technically competent but not particularly exciting.
If you pumped your share of quarters into any of the innumerable beat-'em-ups of yesteryear's arcades--games like Final Fight, Double Dragon, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles--then a high-definition 3D update to any one of those games might sound like a great idea to you. But that's probably because you haven't played any of those old games since they were popular and thus have not yet come to the belated realization that these games are actually pretty simple and boring by today's standards.
Such is the new Xbox Live Arcade remake of the second Ninja Turtles arcade game, Turtles in Time. The game has been "re-shelled" with bland 3D graphics (at the expense of the more memorable 2D originals), and you can now attack along the Y axis in addition to the X, but otherwise this is the same four-player bash-fest filled with Shredder, Krang, and countless Foot Clan ninjas that you banged your head against in the early '90s. In terms of game mechanics this is a competently made game, but that doesn't make it very exciting to play.
Like the original game, you can beat Re-Shelled in 90 minutes or less, as you jump through time from prehistory to a medieval pirate ship, the Old West to a spaceship in the future. But you're pretty much fighting the same Foot Clan grunts on every single level. Come to think of it, there aren't even any decent cutscenes in here to explain why you're bouncing from one epoch to the next. The whole game feels sort of thrown together and by-the-numbers.
The four turtles do have slightly different attributes corresponding to attack speed, range, and so forth, but there's not a lot of depth to the combat. You can grab an enemy and pound him on the ground or throw him into the screen, and do a leaping attack that will knock down any opponents in front of you. But you can also pretty much button-mash your way through the entire game, which gets even easier as you add more players. The game is perfectly functional over Xbox Live, for what it's worth.
The most damning thing about Re-Shelled to me personally is the absence of the original arcade game and its sprite-based graphics. Recent remakes like R-Type Dimensions and Secret of Monkey Island have done a fantastic job of letting you transition seamlessly at the touch of a button between the gussied-up new visuals and the retro originals. Here, you're stuck with just the new 3D graphics, which are poorly detailed and would have been better served with a cel-shading effect, which would have at least evoked a cartoon or comic-book feel. It's also important to note (if only for the sake of nostalgic purists) that this is a remake of the original arcade game and not the Super NES version, so it lacks the extra content added to the latter game.
Re-Shelled is stuck in this weird in-between place where it does no nostalgic service to the original game but also fails to bring anything new whatsoever to this simplistic genre. It does what it does well enough, but what it does just isn't that impressive anymore. On the upside, Microsoft is issuing the value of this game as a rebate to anyone who buys all five of the Summer of Arcade releases. If you're such a person, you could at least consider Turtles in Time a middling freebie.